RFB in NYC: Baby’s All Right
09 Oct 2014
New York's finest: Theo gets to grips with the city that never sleeps
Baby's All Right, Brooklyn, NY
New York so far, well, I'd say it appears impossible not to perpetually oscillate between $1 slices of pizza and Dunkin' Donuts free Wifi. Each is equally enthralling and vital to survive the chaos. Every eight or so blocks, the tractor beam glow of pink and orange lures you in, and within seconds you are pressed up against the glass outside franticly checking emails and snap chatting your Mum. All the time hoping that any of the apathetic staff inside don't actually force you to buy a donut.
Wiping the residue of some fulfilling slab of melted cheese and tomato off my fingers, I arrive at Baby's All Right, just south of the Williamsburg bridge. The venue announces itself as a beacon, with large neon writing emblazend across the front. It sits in and amongst a grand church and posh deli, placing itself within touching distance of North Bedford Ave, niche-bicycle shops and the charming stronghold of Williamsburg. After telling the bar I'm from London, and by telling I mean just opening my mouth, I'm having shots with the bearded and lovely Brandon. I've been warned that New Yorkers, including some Brooklyn hybrids, aren't friendly, but there must be something in the water at Baby's All Right. Bar people Brandon and Sara get straight to business, telling me about the place, both of them out-charming their Williamsburg surroundings. As the pre-show DJ rattled through something that was, for all intents and purposes, Hall & Oates, I asked a few questions....
Theo: Does Baby's All Right have a reputation for a certain type of gig?
Sara: The best ones?
T: If you could put on anyone here who would it be?
S: The Ace of Base, because they're the best ever. Them, followed by a hologram of Bob Marley.
T: What's Brooklyn like when you close at Baby's All Right?
S: Nice but strange. Sunny, empty and blurry.
I stop my futile attempt to talk over the DJ and thank Sara for her time as she hands me a Pacifico. That's beer. North Carolina's Axxa/Abraxas have just started on the stage. There's kids from suburbs and locals rubbing shoulders as the jittery mountain punk jams ooze out of the PA system. It's only Axxa/Abraxas' second show with this line up but they are remarkably tight. Whilst their genre of sounds drift from track to track, the meandering rigorous guitar parts whirl consistently. Ben Ashbury doesn't hold back leaping about the stage like a labrador on acid, flicking his hair and changing the style and impetus of his vocals. As 'On The Run' erupts, he wraps the melody around the arrested bass, the dark precision of Television is nestled amongst the more open, bright, 60s tones. Brief, but frequent, psych outbursts and what feels like a more experimental-side are teased out. The set goes on and the crowd swells.
Dozens of small carnival lights twinkle on and off behind the band and the gear, at the back of the stage. At Baby's All Right, nothing too showy or distracting. The venue suits itself to slightly bigger bands wanting to capture a club atmosphere and also hype bands looking for a proper venue to gain a crowd beyond a dive bar. The lack of security and shallow stage really comes to fruition as Beach Fossils' set begins The crowd shifts as 'Clash the Truth' rings out. A maul ensues of forty or so hardcore gig dwellers and the energy goes up a notch. After a few more songs, the ceiling is breached and dust scatters some of the crowd as sound-proofed MDF is held a loft as if it were a member of the band. A girl, down the front, doesn't think twice about jumping on stage and having her way with guitarist Tommy Davidson. Shrieks and yells, crowd surfer after crowd surfer, numerous jokes and pranks between songs; the whole evening is a rush. 'Careless' breaks the mould. During their songs the band are coy, but between tracks they are nothing but smiles and self-mockery. An encore, a cover of Smashmouth's 'All Star' and then back to the merch stall to meet various admirers; those with and without 'Xs' on their hands.
The 280 capacity, Baby's All Right, followed two nights of hosting Beach Fossils with sold out shows for Ariel Pink and King Tuff, having previously packed out the place with Wavves and Mac DeMarco. There's serious allure to a venue that is both refined and adept but in keeping with a more DIY scene. The crowd is often made up of other bands and the bands playing the set themselves that night. It's easy going, and open. It allows the audience to be as close to the acts they love as they are to a bagel vendor or coffee shop. In the words of Ariel Pink, "there's magic in the air". If you find yourself in Williamsburg, this place is All Right.